On Tuesday we kicked off a netroots fund drive for Bill Sherman, with an ambitious, five-day target of $5,000 in online donations, and once again our region’s progressive community came through. 101 of you donated a total of $5,335. I personally thank all of you.
I spoke with Bill early last night, after we had passed our target but before the tally was final, and I can’t tell you how grateful he was. We didn’t just raise enough money for a targeted mailing, we created a whole lot of excitement and buzz, prompting more well-heeled donors to open up their checkbooks and help close the money gap between Bill and Republican Dan Satterberg. Bill might still be outspent nearly two-to-one, but if he can raise enough money to get his message out, he’s in a great position to be our first Democratic King County Prosecuting Attorney in over sixty years. So if you haven’t already given, please give now.
And while we didn’t hit my personal target of 200 new donors, 101 represents an amazing response rate relative to the few thousand readers who hit the participating blogs on a daily basis. By comparison, earlier this month Satterberg held his last big fundraising event of the campaign, attracting about 60 donors. By that measure, we kicked his ass, and with only a handful of blog posts. Not bad at all.
What we are witnessing both nationally and locally is an emerging progressive movement with the potential to challenge the dominance of both party’s political money machine. When Darcy Burner and I first met back in 2005, and talked about the role the blogs might play in supporting her campaign, the first thing I told her was “don’t expect us to raise you any money.” We can create buzz, I said, help frame the debate and debunk media coverage, but we just can’t raise money. And so nobody was more surprised than me when HA readers contributed over $30,000 to Darcy Burner and Peter Goldmark over a ten-month period in 2006.
Then came Darcy’s astounding $125,000 national netroots funder — over a weekend in August — and now Bill’s $5,335, which relative to the size of the audience is at least as impressive, if not more so.
The point is, that by helping Bill win we are not just gaining a progressive perspective on the administration of justice in King County, we are sending a message to the local political establishment that the rules are changing. As the Democratic Party and other progressive organizations have increasingly relied on local bloggers to get their message out, we have necessarily played an important role in helping to shape their message. And now, in a campaign finance system where most races have contribution limits, our growing ability to harness the financial resources of a diffuse netroots community, and focus it on a handful of very local races, has the potential to transform our movement into one of the most sought after “endorsements” in the state. When a union or corporate PAC or wealthy individual can only give $700 to a race, but we can bring in thousands — in $50, $25, $10 increments — our broader progressive voice becomes louder than any individual special interest.
This is a slow process; it will move forward in fits and starts. But together, we have the potential to transform the face of local and national politics.
Send a message — help elect Bill Sherman.